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Character's death marks end of low-rated 'Action'

Monday, December 06, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor


Fox's low-rated "Action" had its final telecast on Thursday. Two more episodes were scheduled to air this week and were listed in yesterday's TV Week.

But Fox is bringing back the game show "Greed" and airing it at 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, hoping to draw viewers who can't wait for the January return of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

The last episode of "Action" -- a dark comedy about morally corrupt movie producer Peter Dragon (Jay Mohr) -- concluded with Dragon's death after a stressful day on a movie set. Paramedics tried to save him to no avail.

"Time of death?" one paramedic asked.

"9:30 on a Thursday night," the other paramedic replied.

Of course, 9:30 p.m. was "Action's" original time slot and where its final episode aired.

In a phone interview Friday, executive producer/creator Chris Thompson said four unaired episodes were filmed. In the episode that follows, Dragon talks to God, goes through a tunnel of light, comes back to life and wakes up in the hospital.

"He tries to be a gentler human being and fails miserably at it," Thompson said. "We thought [the show could be canceled], so we shot this one so we could go either way with it."

Thompson said he didn't know if Fox would show the remaining episodes, but he's confident they'll see the light of day eventually.

"I imagine we'll get this show compiled, the full 13 episodes, and put it on FX or something," he said. "Maybe we'll do videos, 'Action Uncensored.' But we're sort of still mourning the corpse before we pry the gold teeth out of it."

"Action" was originally developed for HBO before new Fox Entertainment President Doug Herzog leaped at the chance to air a series that pushed the content envelope with bleeped profanity and sex talk. Perhaps "Action" would have had a better shot on HBO, where profanity is status quo?

"Maybe," Thompson said. "HBO has a built-in audience for the show, and the expectations are certainly lessened, and I wouldn't have had any fights about content. At the same time, it was kind of invigorating to try to go into the network landscape and make some changes."

Thompson, who also is executive producer of CBS's "Ladies Man," said he and Herzog remain on good terms, and he praised Fox for promoting the show strongly when it premiered.

"It's just simply a matter in broadcast television, when you have to appeal to a broad-based audience, that this was maybe not a broad show," Thompson said. "This was a show that you had to watch more carefully than people are used to watching television. We had a smart and rabid fan base, just not enough to sell Toyotas."

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